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Đặng Liễu Khải
Đặng Liễu Khải portrait.jpg
Đặng in December 1982
524px-Coat of arms of North Vietnam.svg
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam
In office
10th September 1960 – 13th June 1991
Preceded by Hồ Chí Minh
Succeeded by Võ Đình Sửu
Personal details
Born Vũ Trường Thọ
January 12th, 1902
Flag of Annam Đồng Hới, Quảng Bình Province, French Vietnam
Died 13th June 1991 (89)
Flag of Vietnam Hanoi, North Vietnam
Political party Flag of the Communist Party of Vietnam Communist Party of Vietnam
Spouse(s) Dạ Nhật Chi
Children None
Military service
Allegiance Flag of Vietnam North Vietnam
Service/branch People's Army of Vietnam
Years of service 1944-1988
Rank Colonel
Battles/wars First Indochina War
Vietnam War

Vũ Trường Thọ (January 12th, 1902 - 13th June 1991, aged 89) better known by his nom de guerre Đặng Liễu Khải was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam from 1960 to his death in 1991, and the de facto leader of North Vietnam from 1971-91. Whilst initially continuing CPV Chairman Hồ Chí Minh's policy of collective leadership by 1973 Đặng was the undisputed leader of North Vietnam. In 1973 he was awarded alongside Henry Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize, but declined it.

Đặng was born in Đồng Hới when Vietnam was under French colonial rule. The son of a rice farmer, he was an active member in the early Vietnamese communist movement being a founding member of the Communist League of Indochina and its successor, the Indochinese Communist Party both of which were the forerunners of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV). He successfully ascended through the communist hierarchy participating in the August Revolution and became a key figure within the CPV coordinating communist forces in South Vietnam. During the Vietnam War Đặng was considered a close ally of CPV leader Hồ Chí Minh supporting the idea of a peaceful reunification between North and South Vietnam. Đặng outmanoeuvred hardliner Lê Duẩn to the role of CPV General Secretary in 1960 after Hồ Chí Minh stepped down from the position, successfully becoming the top decision maker in North Vietnam by the late 1960's. Supported by Trường Chinh and Võ Nguyên Giáp Đặng was able to negotiate a provisional peace agreement with South Vietnam in 1973, although North Vietnam continued to support the Viet Cong until the mid 1990's.

Following Hồ Chí Minh's death in 1969 Đặng emerged as the top leader in North Vietnam, and started to emphasise Hồ Chí Minh Thought creating a large personality cult around the former leader. Under the guise of continuing Hồ's policies Đặng was able to successfully purge the CPV of his opponents, most prominently Lê Duẩn, Nguyễn Chí Thanh and Trần Quốc Hoàn. Đặng oversaw the victory of the Pathet Lao in the Laotian Civil War and later the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime in the Cambodian-North Vietnamese War both of which saw the creation of North Vietnamese client states (in the form of the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the People's Republic of Kampuchea). Initially Đặng's retained the socialist economy established under Hồ, but in 1978 started experimenting with limited economic reforms. In 1984 Đặng formally launched the Đổi Mới programme which aimed to create a socialist market economy. Đặng justified these changes by stating North Vietnam was establishing a "Vietnamese Path to Socialism" rather then an orthodox Soviet model. The Đổi Mới reforms resulted in the expansion of the Vietnamese economy, although it would only be under Đặng's successor Võ Đình Sửu would the programme reach its full heights. In 1991 Đặng died of heart failure.

Đặng has been credited for helping end the Vietnam War and establishing (relative) peace between the North and South as well as spearheading economic reform in the north through the adoption of the Đổi Mới programme. His supporters also credit him for modernising and industrialising North Vietnam, so that for a time during the late 1970's the North Vietnamese economy overtook the South's as well as pursuing an independent foreign policy that saw North Vietnam triumph both in Laos and Cambodia. Đặng's critics within the CPV blame him for losing South Vietnam and for the subsequent loss of life in the purges against the Viet Cong conducted after the war. CPV conservatives also accuse Đặng of abandoning socialism, in the process rejecting Hồ Chí Minh's desire for a united, socialist Vietnam instead perpetuating divisions between north and south whilst embracing the very capitalism the CPV fought against in the first Indochina war. Conservatives in the CPV blame Đặng for undermining the moral purity and leadership of the CPV by tolerating revisionism and corruption. Others accuse Đặng of making North Vietnam more dictatorial as he became more powerful then his peers, with tepid political liberalisation and a return to collective leadership only occurring under his successor Võ Đình Sửu. His economic reforms have also been criticised for worsening inequality and corruption in North Vietnam.

Early life

Marxist Revolutionary

Vietnam War

Rule of North Vietnam


Personal life

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